Every Monday, TVO.org provides a primer on what to look for in the coming week in Ontario politics, and features some stories making news now.
Here’s what we’ve got our eye on:
Queen’s Park Keywords
Christmas fun: Education Minister Stephen Lecce is urging elementary teachers at Toronto’s English Catholic school board to end a work-to-rule campaign that may jeopardize some Christmas festivities for students. The Toronto Elementary Catholic Teachers has instructed its members not to participate in several holiday-season activities, such as school Christmas concerts, classroom door decorating contests, and fundraising activities. “Students have shouldered the worst of the pandemic, and we owe it to them to be prioritizing their mental health and academic success,” Lecce said in a statement to the Toronto Star. In response, union president Julie Altomare-Di Nunzio said that teachers have been told not to take part in school-wide activities, but that Christmas celebrations continue in individual classrooms.
The holiday season: This is the last week of the legislature’s fall session, after which MPPs begin their customarily lengthy winter hiatus away from Queen’s Park. They are scheduled to return on Feb. 22.
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Order of business
Here is some of what the legislature is scheduled to discuss this week:
- Monday: Three bills will have third reading: Bill 37, the Providing More Care, Protecting Seniors, and Building More Beds Act, by Minister of Long-Term Care Rod Phillips; Bill 9, the Non-Profit Sector Appreciation Week Act, by PC MPP for Richmond Hill Daisy Wai; and Bill 18, the Polish Heritage Month Act, by PC MPP for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke John Yakabuski and PC MPP for Etobicoke—Lakeshore Christine Hogarth.
- Tuesday: The morning will see third reading of Bill 43, the Build Ontario Act, which are the measures that were announced in Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy’s fall economic statement on Nov 4. There will also be a tribute to late former MPP Bette Stephenson, who was a cabinet minister under premiers Bill Davis and Frank Miller. In the afternoon, third reading of Bill 43 will continue, and later there will be debate on Bill 52, the Stopping Illegal Handgun Smuggling Act, a private member’s bill sponsored by four NDP MPPs: Peter Tabuns, Doly Begum, Rima Berns-McGown, and Suze Morrison.
- Wednesday: Third reading of the Build Ontario Act will continue. There will also be debate on Bill 51, the Provincial Day of Service Act, a private member’s bill by PC MPP for Whitby Lorne Coe.
- Thursday: The government said last week that the business of the legislature on Thursday will be provided later. But one item the government did say was scheduled for discussion is Bill 50, the Hungarian Heritage Month Act, a private member’s bill from PC MPP for Mississauga—Lakeshore Rudy Cuzzetto.
Beyond the Pink Palace
COVID-19 case numbers: The province reported 1,184 new COVID-19 cases yesterday – the highest daily total since 1,273 were reported on May 28. The seven-day average for new cases was about 926, up from 760 a week earlier.
Windsor cases surge: The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has announced that it will impose stricter gathering limits starting Friday in response to a large increase in COVID-19 cases. It will also encourage businesses to let employees work from home as much as possible.
Real estate: A Toronto city councillor and former MPP is putting forward a motion asking the province to impose a speculation tax in an effort to stop house prices from soaring. "$1.3 million for a starter home in Toronto. This is insanity," Mike Colle told CBC News. "I'm asking the province to look at this as a way of slowing things down and ensuring that reasonable people with reasonable incomes have a chance at a house." Colle, who has been a city councillor since 2018, represented the Eglinton-Lawrence area of Toronto at Queen's Park between 1995 and 2018.
Oak trees: A pathogen capable of devastating the province's oak trees, known as oak wilt, has been detected on a Michigan island less than a kilometre south of the Canada-U.S. border. "We all should be worried about oak wilt," recently-retired tree pathogen expert Richard Wilson said to CBC News. "It's an invasive fungal pathogen very similar to the Dutch elm disease, beech bark disease, and white pine blister rust." Municipalities such as Hamilton, London, and Windsor are already alerting residents to be on the lookout for the disease.
Upcoming Ontario politics coverage on TVO
On Tuesday, listen to the latest edition of the #onpoli podcast. On TVO.org, you can expect the latest from our regular political columnists, John Michael McGrath and Matt Gurney. Also on TVO.org, Steve Paikin will write about speculation around the future of Toronto Mayor John Tory, who hasn’t yet said whether or not he will run in next year’s municipal election.
This article was updated at 6:25 a.m.